Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Tails from the Farm

It Happens

Raising children in the city, has its challenges. Raising them on a farm has its own, unique challenges and dangers. Farm equipment poses a risk, and can certainly be dangerous. Farm animals of all types and sizes can be as well, and sometimes, the very products produced on the farm, can pose a risk.
To their way of thinking, children are invincible, and of course fearless. It falls upon the parent to temper that invincibility with common sense, yet without crushing or over-sheltering that fearless spirit.
Our two kidlets kept us busy and ever so entertained, with their brilliance and ongoing antics. Even from a very young age, they would shadow us while we did chores, and helped where they could. It’s amazing what a little child can accomplish, yet kids still have to be kids, and play is an important part of growing. To that end, we made our farm as ‘kid friendly’ as possible. The hubby brought home, giant loader tires from the gravel pit we hauled out of, and made a play structure and tunnels out of them. We set up a tether ball by the round pen, so they could play nearby while I worked horses, and we hauled a whole semi-load of playbox sand home for them as well. All of these helped to entertain and encourage the kidlets to use their imaginations, while burning off energy. Still, the everyday, ordinary farm things, still had a certain lure they often couldn’t resist.
Back when the kids were small, we used to put up our own hay. When we first married and bought our farm, the fields were nothing but thistle. It took a couple of years of working the land before we could seed in hay, with oats as a cover crop. We were looking forward to our first hay crop a couple of years later, when the rains came and didn’t seem to want to stop. In some places, the water stood a foot deep on huge areas of our land. In others, it was completely saturated. The alfalfa rotted where it stood. We ended up cutting and baling what we could, just to get it off the land, and to allow the sun and air to get at the ground and begin to dry it. The stench of rotting vegetation was nauseatingly awful. We got stuck more than we moved forward, yet somehow, we managed to get it done. The land was turned over, replanted, and we began again. This discouraging turn of events happened two more times, one after another, before the weather turned in our favour. We had a bumper crop of oats from the cover crop. We had over two thousand bales of straw to sell, and the hay crop had taken hold, just splendidly.
We recognized the lure that long, golden stack of straw bales were to tiny children. To that end, we impressed upon them, just how dangerous it was to go near or play on it. Put up with a bale wagon, it wasn’t the most solid of stacks, and they could be seriously injured or worse!
I was busy mucking out stalls, checking on the kids playing with the tetherball, every few minutes, when I happened to take a peek to find no kidlets in view. More exasperated than worried, as I’d made it very clear, they were to stay where I could see them, I left the barn chores, to go and see what the mischief makers were up to.
As soon as I cleared the length of the quonset building, my heart stopped. At least a third of the straw stack was down, and there were no children to be seen! Like a mad thing, I raced towards the stack. Just as I reached it, I caught the sounds of happy laughter and play. Horror turned to incredulous relief then annoyance that the little beggers had so blatantly disobeyed. Despite many warnings, as to the danger of going near the precariously stacked straw bales, they had gone and done so. Clearly, they had pulled it down. The ends had been well-braced and secured. Nope, my little darlings had created the avalanche of bales.
Slowing to a walk, I crept silently along the side of the stack, opposite the kidlets. The second I rounded the corner, the boychild caught sight of me, and froze. It was the most precious sight. My four year old, who was as big as a six year old, standing there in the middle of a tumbled mess of bales, holding a bale of straw. It appeared that he was in the midst of building a wall, and I’d caught him red-handed.
“Run,” wide-eyed, he yelled at his little sister, “it’s mom!”
Stepping over a bale, I caught my precocious boy by the arm, even as he dropped the bale he was holding. Plunking down onto a bale, I put my naughty child over my knee, and gave him a smack on the bottom. More noise than anything, I had to make sure that he realized just how serious it was, and that he wouldn’t do so again. Setting him onto his feet, I pointed towards the house.
“Get going, and you’d better be in bed by the time I get there.”
Hands over his little butt, he ran, but not without calling out warnings to his little sister, “why aren’t you running? Run, run before mom gets you!”
Of course sweetpea was still in the exact same spot, up several bales high in the tumbled disarray. Reaching up like the long arm of the law, I caught a hold of her, repeated the punishment I had meted upon her brother, and sent her running after him.
He’d slowed his run to wait up for his baby sister, then the both of them ran, hands on their butts, as if I could even reach them. Following along behind, I was crying as much as they were, probably more. At the same time, I was laughing from the adrenalin rush and relief I was overwhelmed with. It was the most precious, adorable sight I had seen, and I hoped I would never experience it again.
By the time I got to the house, both tykes were upstairs in their beds, and they stayed put for a few hours.
I had to ask the neighbour’s teen son for his help to restack the bales, a most daunting task. It had to be done though, and re-tarped against the weather. The most annoying thing of that darn stack? It was spoken for, and was supposed to be gone. In the end, we sold it bit by bit, because the big ranch that spoke for it, took so long that some bales became affected by rain. I learned a good lesson that summer, and so did the kidlets.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB